Blog Jun 17, 2024

“De-Carbonize: A Smart Move” – A Letter from Our CEO, June 2024

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EnergyPrint clients raise their operating income by reducing their energy use. The value of every business (and the buildings they occupy) is nominally 10 times their net operating income. So, when utility expense drops by $36,000 (our customer average), the value of their enterprise increases by 10 x, or $360,000. This is the value we add – in 7,800 buildings over our 14 year history – which translates into almost $3 billion in added valuation.

There are other reasons to drive building efficiency. In March of this year, the SEC moved to require carbon emissions disclosure, to inform socially motivated investors. They want to evaluate climate-related investment risk, and reward those who reduce emissions.

The link between atmospheric CO-2 levels and climate remains controversial. Humans cause about 4% of CO-2 emissions. The rest is natural. But there is no argument that atmospheric CO-2 levels have risen from 280 parts per million in the 1950s, to about 420 ppm today. It’s pretty clear that the burning of fossil fuels drove the increase. The remaining question for many is, “So what”? The warming trend is gradual and its impact uncertain.

But CO-2 Makes Us Dumber

In 2015, Harvard published a study showing that student cognitive abilities decline dramatically as CO-2 levels rise. Tests show a 21% decrease in cognitive scores when classroom CO-2 is increased from 550 to 950 parts per million (ppm). There was an even greater loss when dealing with strategy questions, where test scores dropped from 1.0 at 550 ppm, to 0.2 at levels of 1400 ppm – levels they found were common in classrooms.  You can read the full study at:

Associations of Cognitive Function Scores with Carbon Dioxide, Ventilation, and Volatile Organic Compound Exposures in Office Workers: A Controlled Exposure Study of Green and Conventional Office Environments (

So, what does the Harvard study data teach us?

  • Since 1973, reduced ventilation to save energy has driven indoor CO-2 levels up.
  • The ASHRAE upper limit of 1000 ppm is far too high – it should be 550.
  • We need to manage ventilation to lower CO-2 levels when rooms are occupied.
  • Reduced ventilation rates have contributed to declining student test scores.

EnergyPrint recommends that classrooms and conference rooms be monitored for CO-2. If the CO-2 levels are too high, then we recommend the addition of a ventilation controller that links wirelessly to the CO-2 sensor. We also recommend a thermostat linked to the CO-2 sensor that alters setpoints when the room is not occupied – in most cases this will save enough energy to offset the energy penalty of improved ventilation.

And EnergyPrint believes that we should do everything possible that is economically justified to lower atmospheric CO-2 emissions. If your strategy to do this is carefully crafted, doing so will drive up your business valuation. Take a walk, breathe some fresh air, and think about it.

Then let us know if we can help, as we have so many others. That is our mission, written above our logo.

With Warmest Regards,

Wade W. Smith
EnergyPrint CEO